Archive for the ‘reform’ Category

LA residents to drink recycled sewage, plus more on water rights "reform"

May 18th, 2008 No comments

1.  According to the New York Times, in the face of the difficulties and high costs of obtaining rights to more water, the mayor of LA has just announced plans for $1 billion in investments to increase municipal water supplies by capturing water from sewage and run-off and sending treated water into ground water.  The city also announced other policies that increase the role of the city in policing how citizens and businesses use water, such as increased fines for watering lawns during restricted times, and encouraging businesses and residents to use more efficient sprinklers and plumbing fixtures.  “The move comes as California braces for the possibility of the most severe water shortages in decades,” but also faces continued population growth.

The article does allude to some of the difficulties LA faces due to a lack of regional markets in water, but fails to note that a significant part of the problem that LA is trying to “manage” is a result of the city’s monopoly over municipal water supply and the related absence of a local water market that would present consumers with greater choice, pricing alternatives and incentives to conserve.  While some of the infrastructure investments make sense, greater water conservation could be achieve simply by getting the city out of the water management/dictatorship business.

 2.  I also note a recent short piece on Tradable Water Rights by an MIT environmental econ professor/Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael Greenstone.   I think that there are some very sticky issues involved here, and believe they deserve greater attention – if not necessarily direct government action to reform water rights.


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